“I want things to change, but I don’t have the money and time to pay for it. What do I do?”

Recently I’ve been hearing this over and over. So today, without a buzz-worthy title, and without any chatty meandering, I’m going to get down to some straight talk on firstly what is wrong with this question, then what the right question to ask is, and finally, what the answers are to that right question.

Before anything else, spoiler alert: the answer is People2People (P2P) thinking, what proceeds is just how to get there. So best go and read Olivier Blanchard’s manifesto here, and then come back.

Ok, done? Let’s get to work.

First: What’s Wrong With This Question?

In two words: factory thinking .

As I discussed yesterday, this old thinking is one of mechanics and processes that are managed and optimised. And if a business is run with factory thinking, then it needs factory solutions: better parts and better processes – both of which require money to acquire the upgraded parts and pay for the skilled mechanic who installs them.

Thing is, most companies today aren’t made up of tangible mechanics. In the P2P world, companies recognise they are are made up of tangible people who work with intangible assets. P2P thinkers also realise that people, unlike parts, don’t need upgrading: they need developing, and they desire leadership – and good leadership will develop them to levels a paid upgrade couldn’t, whilst granting them invaluable experience en route, without the hefty price tag.

Imagine of factory full of parts that intuitively develop themselves to become more effective – that’s P2P – if the people can just be allowed to do it! There are offices around the world with this incredible potential that is not being realised because the people are managed, not developed, and the processes governed, not guided.

Therefore, the question is not one of lacking money and time.

What’s The Right Question?

Here it is: “Given the people that I have, what can I do to enable them to change things?”

Your greatest asset is people. And get out of thinking that people = staff. It doesn’t. People is your employees, your customers, your brand advocates, your influencers and connections, your c-suite, the door man – everyone. To quote God, “what is that in your hand?” – who are the people that you are already connected with?

The next trick is to move from connection to action. This action, of course, is not governed it is guided. So going back to yesterday:

Guidance requires leadership, and leadership requires influence, and influence requires meaning.

Meaning is the motivation of P2P. So let’s look at the tools of P2P that create meaning. Yes, they’re intangible. Interestingly enough, they are also free – because they are intangibles.

Where To Start

  1. Cause
    This is the beginning of meaning. People unite around three things: a common person, common cause, or a common enemy. When it comes to P2P, community is built around the common cause, that is perpetuated by the common person, in resistance to the common enemy. What is the cause for your company? Why do you exist? How do you impact the world beyond products and services? Why should people want work for you? What is the mission? P2P employees don’t ‘go to work’, they ‘go to purpose’. Like Mr. BrandBuilder says, “People would sell their grandmother to work [in P2P] because it is known to be a fantastic place to work, learn, and build lasting professional and personal relationships.” That’s deeper than 9-5.
  2. Language
    Change your language to express your cause. This is the simplest thing to you can do motivate people but also one of the most effective. Once you’ve decided what language to use, it’s also free. Language is one of the most fundamental steps towards culture change – it makes intangible ideas somewhat tangible – meaning that this language becomes, in many respects, the company guidelines.
    Note than language does not mean buzz words. But it does mean using words more accurately, and allowing weight to be attached to words you use frequently. When the word experience roles off of my tongue, there is a weight to it through my continual use that gives it more meaning that just the dictionary definition.
  3. Experience
    People are emotional and react to experiential products and services. We were careful, for example, to make Like Minds an experience, as opposed to just a ‘conference’, and it paid off. We did the little things, like picking the speakers up, making sure they have water and coffee at all times, providing plugs for laptops – and, we did the big things like making it a ‘show’ as opposed to a ‘conference’, and ensuring there was Wi-Fi the whole day, and having people clap and shout out. The result is an emotional attachment.
    Give your language life by staging experiences. Show your employees what your language looks like in the flesh. P2P companies are exceptionally experiential to work out – checkout the Zappos offices, for instance. And when you work in that office, how can you not deliver great customer service?
  4. Leadership
    Seth Godin wrote that Tribes are waiting for people to lead them. True. P2P realises that management is for constants like machinery that might go wrong. People, who are variable and full of potential, need leadership to develop them. They also need passionate leaders who embody cause, language and experience. Leading by example is the key here – so that others can follow the example.
    The founder of any business had the strength to lead themselves to running their company. If they haven’t forgotten what that leadership felt like, then they have it in them to begin leading others. People are the company’s greatest asset – they have the ability to develop, initiate and put intelligent thought into the life of the company, as well as motivate others around them, who in turn, motivate others, and so on. This snowball effect is activated through leadership, not through a pay check. Make meaning.
  5. Relationship
    It’s all about people. This isn’t just mantra, it’s truth. A decision therefore needs to be made to focus more on people – not just face to face, but through social technology. And this isn’t just from office to office. This stretches across the whole company, across departments, across companies and across customers. The relationships are a large part of the motivation behind P2P, obviously. People must not only be allowed, but encouraged to continually make connections with like minds, get excited by talking with envisioned people, and seek out new people who can partake of the cause, and in turn, extend the company’s reach. The light that shines the furthest shines the brightest at home, and the creation of advocates and influencers because of these relationships gives the company massive indirect reach to more people.
    We all know that “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” – but this saying tends to mean knowing people who will help you raise your own profile. P2P turns this on it’s head, and knows that it’s important to know the CEO, know the customer, and know the doorman. PR is redefined to mean Personal Relationship. Social media brings a more level playing ground. Hierarchy works according to influence and who is actually doing the job – and they release that the ‘higher you go’, the more relational you need to be.

So, yeah, Olivier, the conversation has been started :-)

Interestingly enough, I wrote this at the exact same time as Olivier yesterday. Talk about like minds!

Archived Comments

  • http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com olivierBlanchard

    Dude. I think I counted over 30,000 words. I’m watching you.;)


  • http://www.heartyimc.com Sharon Hearty

    Great Post Scott. Getting those in business to think like this is hard and even harder today when ‘operation efficiency is at the top of their mind day in day out’. This is why your point on leadership is so important – great leaders are often great inspirational people and their organisations are often lateral in thinking which breeds innovation, talking, idea storming and generally bringing people together. ‘People buy People’ and this is at the heart of everything we do – finding ‘like minds’ is so rewarding where ever you find them. Teaching business that they can find, engage and reward their customers through a whole new world of social engagement on line is the beauty of harnessing social media for businesses.